Want to know the good news, amid all the economic Brexit gloom? The UK startup sector is booming, with a record 80 new companies formed per hour throughout 2016. That’s a lot of new businesses joining the 5.5 million private firms in the UK, all desperately hungry for sales and growth.
In fact, that overall figure for the UK’s business population is a record in itself. The number of small and medium-sized enterprises in the nation, which makes up 99% of all private sector firms in the UK, has grown by a million since 2010. Now, for the first time ever in the history of the UK, London is home to one million businesses — and that number will continue to grow.
All this has heralded what Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark called Britain’s “economic revival”. The government, he said, “is committed to ensuring Britain builds on its success and is the best place to start and grow a business”. It’s little wonder, then, that so many people are interested in starting their own firms to take advantage of the vastly improved economic circumstances we now find ourselves in.
Before we get going with all this business-happy talk, let’s take a reality check. The owners of any new startup are naturally brimming with enthusiasm at the outset, certain that they’re going to be a giant success and make a total fortune along the way. But it can — and often does — all quickly fall flat, for an array of unforeseen circumstances.
Depending on what you read, and indeed believe, up to half of all startups in the UK fail in just a few years. Other sources put the figure closer to an astounding 90%, which, if true, would mean there are a lot of disappointed and frustrated former business owners out there. Unless, in true entrepreneurial spirit, they learn from their failures, dust themselves off and get going again.
Along with having an actual plan when you start a company and knowing your products, the market and where the opportunities lie, today the experts tell us the key to startup success is technology. That won’t come as a surprise to the average startup in, say, Silicon Valley, but here in the UK, it’s surprising the amount of new firms that don’t automate from the beginning and end up losing out.
Let’s take an example of how technology can power a new company ahead and help it to rapidly scale up. Companies involved in manually handling large and ever-growing numbers of insurance and other claims, for instance, may find they quickly become bogged down, as revenues decline and additional human and capital resources are allocated.
Instead, automating the entire process, using intelligent claims software, not only frees up valuable personnel, but also enables them to rapidly deal with sizeable workloads and scale up fast. Intelligent software is not, however, the artificial kind, but programs that are responsive to firms’ needs, highly configurable and also intuitive. Just think of all the time and money that could be saved, while revenues continue to roar ahead.
So why aren’t more startups automating at the outset with this kind of intelligent assistance? Perhaps they don’t know about it, or maybe, like many a new firm, they blindly assume they can get by with what they have. It’s also possible that startups think they can’t afford such a ‘luxury’, when actually, the outlay could be minimal and the potential rewards enormous. Going it alone, as the failure figures tell us, is not always the wisest of early business strategies.